Background: School nurses are well positioned within the community to assess immunization needs, serve in a leadership capacity to develop immunization programs and promote community awareness of the value of immunizations. While immunization rates for school entry remain high, much work is needed to reach national targets for recommended immunizations for adolescents and adult school personnel (e.g., annual influenza). Historically school nurses have promoted immunizations as a key strategy for a healthy school community. But not all school nurses are confident in their role beyond the required immunizations. Expanded and future, recommendations necessitate equipping the school nurse with information and resources to continue promoting an accurate immunization message.
Setting: A large percentage of each community (children, families and school employees) interfaces with our nation’s schools. 75% of schools have access to a school nurse. The school nurse is often the only health care professional in the school setting.
Population: As a recognized and trusted health care professional, a school nurse has an expansive potential reach to children and adults with a positive message about the importance of immunizations.
Project Description: The National Association of School Nurses (NASN) maintains several national immunization partnerships tapping into timely, accurate and trusted information that is then disseminated to its 14,000 members. Using a multifaceted approach, NASN provides multiple resources to equip the school nurse in the role of immunization champion. The resources available (e.g., continuing nursing education, toolkits, educational campaigns) will be described. Preliminary steps in a recently funded CDC cooperative agreement focused on the school nurse role in improving immunization coverage will be shared.
Results/Lessons Learned: As an immunization champion, the school nurse can contribute to easing the burden of vaccine preventable disease, reduce school absenteeism, and promote a healthy school environment that fosters student health and academic success. Uptake of resources by school nurses demonstrates the need for this information.